KINO MOTEL is the brand new project from Ed Fraser and Rosa Mercedes, with a series of upcoming releases they’ve labeled ‘grit pop’. After meeting in a commune in Berlin, the duo deserted together and hit the road. Following a grimy and particularly sweaty basement karaoke session somewhere in Vietnam in 2019, Fraser and Mercedes realized they needed to form a band, and KINO MOTEL was created. Named for the bar in which it was conceived, KINO MOTEL listeners can expect dusty melancholic gritty pop.

Tell us about the genesis of your project. How did you get to where you are now?

Ed: Kino Motel was formed after Rosa and I sang karaoke together in a sweaty Vietnam basement while travelling back in 2019. We were both living in Berlin and fronting other bands at the time, and touring and releasing records mostly around Europe. Our voices really complimented each other and sitting in the bar we decided to join forces. Kino Motel is a way for both of us to fully realise a lot of creative ideas. Music is a huge part of this band no doubt, but we also put a lot of time into the visual and other creative elements to the band, so it’s not just about being a traditional band so to speak, it’s also about making films and following other creative paths.

How would you describe the highs and lows of being an artist?

Rosa: When I was a kid I used to draw pictures of everything normal-sized, and then I would be a huge giant towering over a house with my head in the clouds. Thanks to playing music my mental state hasn’t changed much, and it’s always an effort to stay grounded. Also, one of the absolute worst things about being an independent muso is that you have to use Facebook for events, although you know the only other people on there are bots and your high school friends’ parents. Minimal time on social media and lots of time appreciating other artists in person equals guaranteed highs.

What’s a musical guilty pleasure of yours?

Ed: I recently found an Alan Parson’s Project LP mysteriously hidden with a bunch of my records. I have no idea how it got there, and I’d definitely never listened to the Alan Parson’s Project before. I’m also not sure if I actually like it or not, but I’ve been listening. I also really love the Swedish metal band Meshuggah. Every time I put it on everybody else leaves the room though haha.

Rosa: Richard Shindell and other sincere and cheesy country music.

What are some sources of inspiration for you?

Ed: Currently in Melbourne there’s a heap of great bands that we’re finding really inspiring. Blake Scott, Tropical Fuck Storm, Cash Savage, Tom Lyncgoln, Thomy Sloane & Lucy Waldron, and Our Carlson just to name a few. Our Carlson is doing some really interesting things, I’ve heard him described as a purveyor of DIY epileptic dance music. We’ve just come off a short tour in South Eastern Australia with Our Carlson and he was just brilliant, it was really inspiring to see him do his thing every night.

Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?

Ed: I’m a huge Kendrick Lamar fan. Everything he does, I’m into it.

Favorite activity to blow off some steam?

Rosa: Painting and surfing. I love how you can go to the same beach and the ocean is never the same twice. The colours in the water and energy in the waves are always unique. It’s also humbling getting smacked around. I’m terrible at surfing so that happens a lot. 

Ed: I’m obsessed with basketball. I’ll play anybody at any time.

Tell us about your latest release and how it came about

Ed: ‘Fingerprints’ was initially conceived back when we lived in Berlin, and at that time it was written with memories of Australian suburbs and hot summers. The kind of hot where it’s really way too hot and everybody goes a bit nuts. We recorded the drums and percussion in Berlin with Josefin Runsteen and Sebastian Maschat respectively, then when we got locked down in Melbourne in 2020 we recorded the guitars, bass and vocals at home in Melbourne. There’s a video for Fingerprints coming real soon that is a continuation of a video series we started with our first single ‘Waves’. The story, in three parts so far, takes us from Bangkok to Vietnam and now to Australia.

What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?

Rosa: Cry a lot.

Ed: I get outside and do something physical. Surfing, basketball, boxing. Something hard to wear me out physically. That always works for me, personally.

What’s the future looking like for you?

Rosa: All I know is we’re going to keep making a lot of music and videos, and we’ll be looking to tour everywhere that’ll have us.

Ed: Definitely touring more throughout Australia, plus Europe and North America as soon as that’s possible for us again. And yeah as Rosa said anywhere that will have us really haha. We booked and cancelled a heap of dates over the last 18 months. I really can’t wait to take this band on the road. Plus we’re deep in writing songs for our debut album at the moment too. We’re back in the studio here in Melbourne in mid-September to record, and we’re pretty excited to get some of these songs out. Sometime in early 2022 we’ll aim to release the album.

What inspires your visuals, videos, looks etc?

Rosa: We love watching film noir, action films, westerns and it all feeds into our visuals. I always felt I belong floating around in the 70’s and being part of social experiments, and then I met Eddie and saw his brown velvet suit at home and I thought he must have fallen through the same wormhole.

Ed: haha funnily enough I did

What is the most embarrassing memory and most proud moment of your career so far ?

Ed: I mimed Achy Breaky Heart by Billy Ray Cyrus in front of my entire primary school as a nine-year-old. I really went for it, I had a badminton racket for a guitar and I was wearing a Davy Crockett hat for some reason? I think the hat was maybe supposed to emulate Billy Ray’s hair, but I really can’t remember why. I’d say that counts for both my most embarrassing and proudest moment, all rolled up neatly into one big confusing memory. 

Rosa: When I was 15 I sang a solo in a gospel choir and thought the crowd was pretty into it. When I was done I realised my top had fallen down and I was singing in my bra. My proudest moment was back-up singing for Barbara Streisand in Amsterdam.

What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

Rosa: If you keep making the same mistake, you’re clearly not sick enough of it yet so go for it. I love that one, and always bear it in mind when I’m about to go and make a mistake.

Where do you think the music and entertainment industry is headed after this past year?

Rosa: Into overdrive by the looks of it. I’m also happy to see some talk of making streaming channels like Spotify pay artists. Since we haven’t been able to play shows, I think the shocking exploitation of artists by companies like Spotify is being highlighted.